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Psal. cxlvii. 10, 11, O what terms of endearedness doth God use towards his people! Doth not all this speak them to be in special favour with him? Which of all these alone, doth not signify a person highly in favour with God?
Secondly, The gracious manner in which he treats them upon the throne of grace, to which he allows them to come with boldness, Heb. iv. 16. This also speaks them in the special favour of God: he allows them to come to him in prayer, with the liberty, confidence, and filial boldness of children to a fa. ther; Gal. iv. 6. “ Because ye are fons, God hath fent forth “ the spirit of his son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father;". the familiar voice of a dear child : yea, which is a wonderful condescension of the great God to poor worms of the earth, he faith, Isa. xlv, 11.“ Thus faith the Lord, the boly One of Il-, “ rael, and his maker, ask me of things to come concerning “ my sops, and concerning the work of my hands command ye “ me:” an expression so full of grace, and special favour to believers, that it needs great caution in reading and understanding such an high and astonishing expression, the meaning is, that God hath, as it were, subjected the works of his hands to the prayers of his faints: and it is as if he had said, if my glory, and your necessity shall require it, do but ask me in prayer, and whatever my Almighty Power can do, I will do it for you. However, let no favourite of heaven forget the infinite distance betwixt himself and God. Abraham was a great favourite of heaven, and was called the friend of God; yet see with what humility of spirit, and reverential awe he addresselh to God, Gen, xviii. 27
• Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the “ Lord, which am but dust and ashes." So that you
see the titles of favour above-mentioned are no empty titles.
Thirdly, God's readiness to grant, as well as their liberty to alk, speaks them the special favourites of God. The heart of God is fo propenfe, and ready, to grant the desires of believers, that it is but ask and have, Mat. vii. 7. The door of grace is opened by the key of prayer. That is a favourite indeed, to whom the king gives a blank to infert what request he will : “ If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye small ask « what ye will, and it shall be done unto you," Joho xv. He o blessed liberty of the sons of God! David did but say, “Lord, “ turn the counsel of Ahitophel into foolishness," and it was done as soon as asked, 2 Sam. xv, 31. Joshua did but say, * thou fun stand Nill in Gibeon,” and a miraculous stop was presently put to its swift motion in the heavens; nay, which is wonderful to consider, a prayer, yet unborn, I mean conceived
in the heart, and not yet uttered by the lips of believers, is of ten anticipated by the propeo siveness of free grace, Ifa. Ixv. “ And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, " and whilst they are yet speaking I will hear.” The prayers of others are rejected as an abomination, Prov. xv. 8. God casts them back into their faces, Mal. ii. 3. Buc free grace sigus the peticions of the saints more readily than they are presented : we have not that freedom to ask, that God hath to give : it is true, the answer of a believer's prayers may be a long time sufpended from his fenfe and knowledge; but every prayer, according to the will of God, is presently granted in heaven, though, for wise and holy eods, they may be held in a doubtful suspente about them upon earth.
Fourthly, The free discoveries of the secrets of God's heart to believers, speak them to be his special favourites : men open not the counsels and secrets of their own hearts to enemies, or strangers; but to their most inward and intimate friends: “The “ secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will “ shew them his covenant,” Psal. xxv. 14. When God was about to destroy Sodom, he would do nothing in that work of Judgment 'till he had acquaioted Abraham his friend, with his purpose therein, Gen. xviii. 17." And the Lord said, Shall I “ hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know " him,” br. So when a king was to be elected for Israel, and the person whom God had chofen, was yet unknown to the people, God, as it were, whispered that secret unto Samuel the day before, i Sam. ix. 15. “ Now the Lord had told Samuel “ in his ear a day before Saul came :” according to the manner of princes with some special favourite.
Fifthly, The Lord's receiving every small thing that comes from them with grace and favour, when he rejects the greatest things offered by others, doth certainly bespeak believers the special favourites of God. There was but one good word in a whole sentence from Sarah, and that very word is noted and commended by God, i Pet. iii. 6. “ She called him Lord.” There were but some small begionings, or buddings of grace in young Abijah, and the Lord took special notice thereof, i Kings
" Because in him there is found some good thing toward " the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam.” Let this be an encouragement to young ones, in whom there are found any breathing desires after Christ: God will not reject them if any sincerity be found in them; a secret groan, uttered to God in sincerity, Mall not be despised, Rom. viii, 26. The very bent of a believer's will, when he had no more to offer un
to God, is an acceptable present, 2. Cor. viii. 11. The very in teat, and purpose that lie secretly in the heart of a believer, not yet executed, are accepted with him, 1 Kings viii. 18. “ Where
as it was in thine heart to build an house to my dame, thou “ didlt well that it was in thine heart.” Thus small things offered to God by believers find acceptance with him, whilst the greatest presents, even folemn assemblies, fabbaths, and prayers from others are rejected : “ They are a trouble unto ine (faith " God); I am weary to bear them,” Ifa. i. 14, 15.
“ Incepfe “ from Sheba, the sweet cane from a far country" are not acceptable, nor facrifices sweet uato God from other hands, Jer. vi. 20. From all which it appears, beyond doubt, that the perfons and duties of believers are accepted in the special favour of God by Jesus Christ: which was the second thing to be spoken to, and brings us to the third general, viz.
Thirdly, How Christ, the beloved, procures this benefit for believers? And this he doth four ways.
First, By the satisfaction of his blood, Rom. v. 10.“ When
we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death " of his Son.” No friendship without reconciliation, no recon. ciliation, but by the blood of Christ : therefore the new and living way, by which believers come unto God with acceptance, is said to be consecrated for us through the veil of Christ's fleth; and hence believers have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb. X. 19, 20.
Secondly, The favour of God is procured for believers, hy their mystical union with Christ, whereby they are made “members " of his body, of his fell, and of his bones," Eph. v. 30. So that as Adam's posterity stood upon the same terms that he, their natural head, did; fo believers, Christ's myftical members, stand in the favour of God, by the favour which Chrift their spiritual head hath, John xvii. 33." [in them, and thou in me, that they
may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that " thou hast fent me, and hast loved them as thou halt loved me."
Thirdly, Believers are brought into favour with God by Chrift becoming their altar, upon which their persons and duties are all offered up to God: The altar sanctifies the gift, Heb. xiii. 10. And this was typified by the legal rite mentioned Luke i. 9, 10. Christ is that golden altar from whence all the prayers of the faints ascend to the throne of God, perfumed with the doors, and incense of his merits, Rev. viii. 34." And another angel came “ and stood at the altar, having a golden cenfer, and there was
given unto him much incense that he should offer it, with the prayers of all faints upon the golden altar which was before " 'the throne; and the smoke of the incense which came with
the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the
angel's hand.” And thus.you see how the perfons, and duties of believers are brought into favour and acceptance with God by Jesus Christ. The uses follow.
Infer i. If all believers be in favour with God, how great a mercy is it to have the prayers of such engaged on our behalf? Would we have our business fpeed in heaven, let us get into favour with God ourselves, and engage the prayers of his people, the favourites of heaven, for us : Vis unita fortior, one believer can do much, many can do more : when Daniel designed to get the knowledge of that secret, hinted in the obfcure dream of the king, which none but the God of heaven could make known, it is said, Dan. ii. 17. “Then Daniel went to his house, aod " made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “ his companions; that they would defire mercies of the God “ of heaven concerning this fecret.” The benefits of such afGistance in prayer by the help of other favourites with God, is plainly intimated by Jesus Christ to us, Mat. xviii
. 19. “If two so of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they " shall alk, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in “ heaven.” God sometimes stands upon a number of voices, for the carrying of fome public mercy, because he delighteth ia the harmony of many praying souls ; and also loves to oblige and gratify many in the answer, and return of the fame prayer. I know this usage is grown too formal, and complemental among profesors: but certainly it is a great advantage to be Gincere with them, who are so with God. St. Bernard prescribing rules for effectual prayer, closes them up with this with, et cum talis fueris, memento mei, when thy heart is in this frame, then remember me.
Infer. 2. If believers be fuch favourites in heaven, in what a desperate condition is that cause, and those persons, against whom the generality of believers are daily engaged in prayers and cries to heaven?
Certainly Rome shall feel the dint, and force of the many millions of prayers that are gone up to heaven, from the faints, for many generations : the cries of the blood of the martyrs of Jefus, joined with the cries of thousands of believers, will bring down vengeance at last upon the man of fin. It is said, Rev. viii. 4, 5, 6. “That the smoke of the incense which came with as the
prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the “ angel's hand :” And immediately it is added, ver. 5. “And “ the angel took the cenfer, and filled it with fire of the altar, “ and cast it into the earth, and there were voices, and thunder
ings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and the seven angels, “ which had the seven trumpets, prepared themselves to found." The prayer of a single faint is sometimes followed with wonderful effects, Pfal. xviii. 6, 7. “In my distress I called upon the “ Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his “ temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears: then “ the earth shook and trembled; the foundation also of the hills « moved and were shaken, because he was wroth :" what then can a thundering legion of such praying forts do? It was said of Luther, iste vir potuit cum Deo quicquid voluit, that man could have of God what he would ; his enemies felt the weight of his prayers, and the church of God reaped the benefits thereof. The queeen of Scots professed, she was more afraid of the prayers of Mr. Knox *, than of an army of ten thousand men : these were mighty wrestlers with God, however contemned and vilified among their enemies. There will a time come, when God will hear the prayers of his people, who are continually crying in his ears, How long? Lord, how long?
Infer. 3. Let na believer be dejected at the contempts and Nightings of men, so long as they stand in the grace and fa. vour of God. It is the lot of the best men to have the worst usage in the world: those of whom the world was not worthy, were not thought worthy to live in the world, Heb. xi. 38. Paul and his companions were men of choice and excellent spirits; yet faith he, 1 Cor. iv. 12.“ Being defamed, we intreat ;
we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring “ of all thiags unto this day.” They are words figoifying the bafest, most contemptible, and abhorred things among men. How are heaven and earth divided in their judgments and estimations of the saints ? Those whom men call filth and dirt, God calls a peculiar treasure, a crown of glory, a royal diadem. But trouble not thyself, believer, for the unjust cenfures of the blind world; they speak evil of the things they know not: “ He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself " is judged of no man," I Cor. ii. 14. You can discern the earthlinels and bafeness of their spirits, they want a faculty to discern the excellency and choiceness of your spirits : he that carries a dark lantern in the night, can difcern him that comes against him, and yet is not difcerned by him. A courtier regards not a
* Jacobus Sangius, the Sorbonne doctor, who wrote the lives of Luther, Knox and Calvin, speaks as if the devil had hired his pen to abuse those precious servants of Christ.